Former City Sheriff's Department Employee Pleads Guilty In Fraud Scheme
PHILADELPHIA - Richard Bell, 36, of Philadelphia, pleaded guilty today to his role in a scheme to defraud the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office. Bell was charged with and pleaded guilty to one count each of wire fraud and of willfully filing a false federal income tax return. U.S. District Court Judge Legrome Davis scheduled sentencing for April 16, 2012.
Bell was employed in the Accounting Department of the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office. Between 2007 and 2010, Bell wrote fraudulent checks drawn on bank accounts of the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office to unauthorized individuals and companies. Bell forwarded over $400,000 of those checks to Robert Rogers. Rogers cashed the checks made payable to himself and forwarded the other checks to other individuals to cash or deposit. In particular, Rogers forwarded to Jackiem Wright and Reginald Berry over $147,000 in checks made payable to one company. Wright and Berry deposited those checks into the company bank account, and withdrew or attempted to withdraw the proceeds. Rogers, Wright and Berry pleaded guilty to their roles in the scheme last week and are awaiting sentencing, scheduled in April.
Bell also assisted a person known to the United States Attorney in fraudulently purchasing properties at Sheriff’s sale for only ten percent of the bid price. Bell carried out the scheme by removing the checks that the person submitted to the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office for the remaining ninety percent before the checks were deposited. For this, Bell charged and received a fee from the person.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, and the City of Philadelphia Office of Inspector General. The City of Philadelphia Office of the Controller has also assisted the investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sarah L. Grieb, Assistant United States Attorney Christopher Diviny, and Special Assistant United States Attorney Meriah Russell.
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, EASTERN DISTRICTof PENNSYLVANIA
Suite 1250, 615 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
PATTY HARTMAN, Media Contact, 215-861-8525